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Matchworld recently interviewed Christoph Sauser and Burry Stander of Team 36ONE-SONGO-SPECIALIZED on their thoughts about the route for the upcoming Absa Cape Epic. The interview with Burry is featured below:

Matchworld - Tell us about your general preparation for the upcoming Absa Cape Epic - Are there specific training programs or dietary regimes that you follow, when does training start and what would you recommend fellow riders incorporate into their preparations in order to get “Epic Ready”?

Burry Stander - For me the focus for the year is the World Cup season. Having said that, the Absa Cape Epic is the big early season goal and after logging in some miles over the summer it falls perfectly into my season as I have good endurance at the start of the season. I have been training very hard since the start of December to be in great shape at the first World Cup which is one week before the Absa Cape Epic. For fellow riders it depends on your goals. For guys who just want to finish it’s about doing the long miles right now and looking after your health. Train hard, rest hard and eat well.

MW - Do you participate in combined training sessions as Team 36ONE-SONGO-SPECIALIZED or do you train individually for the Absa Cape Epic? How do you prepare the boys from Songo.info for this gruelling race?

BS - As I live in Port Shepstone and Suzie trains in Stellenbosch we do our own thing. We know each other well and I know he will be ready.

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Let’s discuss your thoughts on the “stage by stage” route for the Absa Cape Epic as announced In October 2011.

Prologue Meerendal Wine Estate (27km with 900m of climbing)

MW -From the start heading through Contermanskloof, Hillcrest & Kliprug ahead of the of the first stage, What strategy will the team look to apply and will you be conserving energy for the following stages?

BS - I think we are probably one of the most relaxed teams when it comes to checking out and analyzing stages. The Absa Cape Epic is not about statistics and strategizing. Anything can happen out there. For this stage we will practice the loop the day before and when the gun goes it’s flat out.

Stage 1 – Robertson to Robertson (115km with 2 350m of climbing)

MW - Stage 1 is always a massive awakening for participants as it combines the length, climbing challenge and severity of the trail surfaces along with the speed of fresh-legs at the front of the field. How will you be approaching this stage?

BS - Our strength in the past has been our speed. If we have it we will try and make the race hard right at the beginning. Either way, 115km at the start of the race is going to hurt!

Stage 2 – Robertson to Robertson (119km and 1 650m of climbing)

MW - This particular stage is deemed as accommodating to the riders as it starts gradually but takes a sharp turn towards the final phase. Heavy duty tyres may be required for these obstacles, how will you and your technical team prepare for this?

BS - We found great tires last year and used the ‘’Control renegade specialized tires’’. I’ll just keep fighting with Suzie to leave the lighter stuff at home. (Laughs) Short climbs are generally good for us and if they come at the end of the stage it’s a great way to make up time.

Stage 3 – Robertson to Caledon (147km and 2 900m of climbing)

MW - Talk us through “A Stage in the Life of Team 36ONE-SONGO-SPECIALIZED”. What happens from when the team wake up till the bed down for rest during a typical Absa Cape Epic day?

BS - We usually wake up at 5am, Suzie starts cooking and I roll over and have my breakfast in bed. I try to sleep again until 6 before we rush to get dressed and have coffee. By this stage I have to really start lighting a fire or we won’t make the start. We also have an “epic song” which we listen to before we head out. It gets us all amped and psyched up!

After the gun goes off we are in the zone and typically don’t talk much for the first hour or two before we wake up and it’s go time. An epic stage usually only heats up in the last 90min and then it’s time to hold onto Sauser as he loves the long stuff!

If we had a successful day out we get cleaned up with help from our soignée and then go to the podium for prize giving. Following this its media a conference and then doping control. We then get to have a bite before showering and having a real meal. The rest of the day I try to sleep and recharge.

In the evening we have dinner with our fellow riders and attend prize giving after which I hit the sack earliest and If Suz had a successful afternoon some wine will be enjoyed at the camper.

Stage 4 – Caledon to Caledon (105km with 2 600m of climbing)

MW - This stage comprises of 2 major climbs, how do anticipate the team will be feeling at this stage mentally and physically and give us an overview of the type of eating plan will you be following during the race?

BS - By now the tiredness stays pretty much the same and you’re into the routine. We will be tired of sweet stuff and will be including salty snacks in our jersey pockets to eat out on the road. The rest of my dietary requirements for racing are taken care of by USN who focuses a lot of their product development on races like the epic and its rigorous requirements.

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Stage 5 – Caledon to Oak Valley (119km with 2 350m of climbing)

MW - This will be a fast, flowing start before heading to the fynbos-lined mountain tracks. What are your thoughts on this stage and what advice would you give other riders in order to help them prepare for this stage?

BS - Save some for the end. This stage is unrelenting as you near the end. You see Oak Valley form a long way out, but keep turning away as you get closer. This can be taxing.

Stage 6 – Oak Valley to Oak Valley (85km with 2 200m of climbing)

MW - What do you think about this short yet tough stage, as it has proven to be a decider in the past?

BS - It will probably be the enjoyable as in the past.

Final Stage

Stage 7 – Oak Valley to Lourensford (64km with 1 350m of climbing)

MW - the finale, stamina and endurance will go a long way in securing victory on this last stretch, do you have any tips on fitness preparation to push through the final stage?

BS - If you have made it this far you’re going to be fine so stop stressing and enjoy it. It’s a special feeling to cross that finish line in Lourensford.

Closing Thoughts:

MW - What is your best memory over the years from the Absa Cape Epic

BS - Crossing the line at Lourensford last year.